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Douglas Andrews / October 7, 2021

Sage Steele Speaks Her Mind

The free-thinking ESPN personality was suspended for uttering a couple of uncomfortable truths.

If ESPN personality Sage Steele wanted to make her woke colleagues head for the fainting couch, she’d have been hard-pressed to pick a better topic than the personal racial preference of Barack Obama. Except maybe the awfulness of her corporate employer’s vaccine mandate.

Perhaps unable to decide, she blasphemed both — “Black Jesusand the Perpetual Pandemic. Not surprisingly, it was all too much for the progressive poohbahs at ESPN and their bosses at Disney, who struck a powerful blow for speech suppression by suspending her.

Steele, who’s been with the network for about 15 years, appeared last week on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast, where she talked of many things, including her biracial identity and that of the former president. A mix of African, Irish, and Italian, Steele recalled a 2016 appearance on “The View” that wound up being a racial awakening of sorts:

Barbara Walters ripped me, live TV, and then afterwards, too … because they were wondering … “Why is it so important to you to say that you’re biracial?” … And I’m like, “Why not?” … “If [the Census makes] you choose a race,” she’s like, “What’re you gonna put?” And I go, “Both.” And she’s like, “Well, you can’t.” She goes, “Barack Obama chose black, and he’s biracial.” And I’m like, “Well, congratulations to the president. That’s his thing. I think that’s fascinating, considering his black dad was nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him. But, hey, you do you. I’m gonna do me. … I’m pretty sure my white mom was there when I was born … and my white family loves me just as much as my black family.” And I got killed for that.

It’s sickening to think about it, but Steele’s fearlessness, her outspokenness, her willingness to tell hard truths has caused her and her two teenage daughters to get death threats: “People saying they hope my daughters get raped … all because I have a different opinion than I guess I’m supposed to for my skin color and my gender.”

“It scared the sh*t out of me,” she said, “[but] I think that that’s actually strengthened me. To continue to speak, to continue to be attacked. … My mother would look on Instagram and see the comments and say, ‘Please delete them.’ … I can’t delete that. Because if I delete it, that makes it look like it didn’t happen … and I want people to know … that this is what can happen if you’re in a bit of a spotlight, a public figure, and think differently. But … go ahead, bring it. Tell me that I’m wrong for saying that diversity of thought is more important to me than any kind of diversity.”

Was it that expression of honesty that set her bosses off, or was it her remarks about the vaccine mandate of ESPN’s parent company, Disney? You be the judge:

“I respect everyone’s decision,” Steele said, with a bandage on her left shoulder showing where she got stuck. “I really do, but to mandate it is, um, sick. And it’s scary to me in many ways. … I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, a global company … but it was actually emotional.”

Steele, a recently divorced mother of three, took the stick to keep her job, and then she publicly told the world that the Disney mandate is “sick” and “scary.” And then, Tuesday, no doubt under enormous pressure, she apologized: “I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” she said. “We are in the midst of an extremely challenging time that impacts all of us, and it’s more critical than ever that we communicate constructively and thoughtfully.”

Fair enough? Time to move on? No. Steele was then suspended. Said her intolerant bosses: “At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great. That said, we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values, and in line with our [cowardly, hard-left, speech-suppressing] internal policies.”

How does Steele manage “to live out this crazy dream” while being reviled and continually attacked by the intolerant Left? One of the keys, she says, is this: “You’ve gotta be okay with not being liked. And I’m finally there.”

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